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Ignite DC #3

Daniel T Chen

Igniting Peer Mentoring with Ubuntu

Given our "plugged-in" culture, it's easy to forget that we're leaving behind groups of people who don't have similar resources (e.g., time, money, energy). Despite technologies enabling us to span vast distances, we aren't up to par at reaching across generations, gender and socioeconomic divisions. One approach in our arsenal is to harness the fruits of the Free Software movement to build stronger communities and to grow the peer mentoring pool. We consider how traditional liberal arts (and engineering) curricula can be modified to both assess and effect these changes.

About Daniel T Chen:

A stalwart Debian user since 1997, I have been involved in the ALSA software project ranging from enhancing device drivers to packaging new revisions. I am also a commuting member of the Triangle Linux Users Group (#trilug on irc.freenode.net). On the Debian side of things, I have assisted with ALSA, ROX, and wpasupplicant maintenance. From mid-2005 to mid-2007, as an Ubuntu core developer I led the ubuntu-audio Launchpad team that cares for ALSA development and maintenance in Ubuntu. I now assist the team responsible for general Ubuntu audio maintenance.

Of note, I have worked at IBM Rochester in UI design and at North Carolina A&T State University, teaching Operating Systems and Programming Language Concepts to upperclassmen computer science students and C++ Problem Solving to freshmen for the latter. My primary research area has included securing remote compilation tools in Grid environments; other interests are protocol optimisations for multiagent coordination/classifiers and adaptive operating systems. I use Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS) extensively in research and instructive methods. I am currently an analyst with a federal employer.

Over a longer term, I am interested on reforming educational methods so that they are realigned with current technological trends. My time as a lecturer at NC A&T has exposed me to a severe lack in adequate input and response to student stimulation. Furthermore, creation of the Edubuntu derivative has led me to investigate changes to elementary, middle, and secondary school curricula that assist students and teachers alike in visualising traditionally difficult concepts. Unless posterity harnesses the tools created by the Open Source movement, we will continue to "dumb down" expectations and performance in all environments. Any positive global change should be driven by philanthropic contributions to peer groups in every sector.

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